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Today Show: CUs a Fix For Consumers Burdened By Bank Fees
WASHINGTON (9/30/13)--In a piece that strongly criticized banks for assessing unneeded fees on their customers, NBC's Today Show offered credit unions as an alternative for consumers.

Today Show anchors were surprised at the lengths banks go to to collect fees, and CNBC's Kayla Tausch touted credit unions as an answer to consumer distress over those increasing bank fees.
Dozens of not-so-standard fees are popping up, leaving customers surprised in many cases, CNBC's Kayla Tausch reported.

The NBC piece cited PNC Bank policies that mean customers with "Virtual Wallet" accounts could see a $7 monthly fee if they bank in a branch. Among the ways to waive the $7 charge: be a student, hold a minimum balance of $500, or pledge to bank only online, by mobile or at an ATM.

Wells Fargo's move to charge a fee to customers that elect to receive paper statements is also highlighted in the report.

All in all, the average checking account can have 30 to 50 fees built in, Tausch said. Banks will bring in around $41 billion in fee income this year, she said.

Bank fees ignited the grassroots movement Bank Transfer Day, Nov. 5, 2011, which helped prompt a gain of 2.2 million new member accounts at credit unions (News Now Feb. 27).

A 2013-2014 Fees Report generated by CUNA's Market Research Department details just how much credit union members save when compared to fees and charges levied on bank customers.

More than 80% of credit unions with checking services still offer free checking, compared to 39% of banks. Only 18% of credit unions overall charge maintenance fees on non-interest bearing checking accounts. Half of those credit unions (9%) levy a general maintenance fee. The other 9% of credit unions charged fees only when a minimum balance fell below a certain threshold.

The median overdraft protection fee at credit unions is $25, compared to median fees of $30 at banks and $35 at larger banks, CUNA reported.

As for ATMs: The average nonmember credit union ATM fee, for those that charge them, is $2.10. Banks on average charge non-customer fees of $2.50 per transaction. (See Sept. 11 News Now story: Bank Survey Shows Customers Fed Up With Fees.)
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